Although this book was orginally published in 1985, the same year I discovered Zora Neale Hurston and a time period when I was ravenous for African American writers, surprisingly, I somehow missed this one. But better late than never.
I consider Mary Monroe's writing style comparable to literary greats such as Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston. Mama Ruby is a character I will never forget. Mama Ruby is an obese woman who quotes scripture in one breath and curses like a sailor in the next. She carries a switch blade and a cross, symbols of her conflict with good and evil. According to Mama Ruby, Satan and the Lord are having a tug-of-war over her soul. Mama Ruby doesn't look for trouble but is ever vigilant, expecting trouble to come her way. And when it does... Whew! With her switchblade, shotgun, and sometimes her bare hands, she "chastizes," feeling not a bit of remorse, those who bring trouble into her life, i.e., bill collectors, an unfaithful husband, etc.
After "chastizing" them, she demands that her young son, Virgil dig a hole and bury the bodies.
She betrays Othella, her best friend in the world when she steals Othella's newborn daughter. She leaves town in the middle of the night and raises the beautiful child, named Maureen as her own in the a rural area called Goons in Florida.
Maureen's designated bedroom is a special and sanctified place called the Upper Room. Mama Ruby plans to keep Maureen in the Upper Room for the rest of her life.
The colorful cast of misfits who surround Mama Ruby, often participating in her deadly escapades are almost as memorable as Mama Ruby.
I read God Don't Like Ugly and thoroughly enjoyed it; but I give author Mary Monroe major props for this masterpiece and plan to read everything she's written.